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5 Years and Counting - The App Store Then and Now

Posted by Rob Rich on July 12th, 2013

Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.

On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.

2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning

The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.

Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.

At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.

2009 - Moving Right Along

The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.

Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.

So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.

Help Agent Squeak, SPY Mouse Solve The Clues and Win

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on August 24th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: "SIM"PLY AWESOME :: Read Review »

If you haven't been living under a rock, you'll have been awaiting the release of the next hit from superstar developer, Firemint. They've recently been acquired by EA, and are putting some of that marketing muscle behind their upcoming release (this week!) with a brand new contest.

Spy Mouse: Solve the Clue is game in which entrants must help protagonist Agent Squeak solve clues on a daily basis, using Twitter. Simply head on over to the game page and click on the "solve the clue botton." A question will be posed, after a quick sign in to Twitter, and each daily correct entry will be entered to win a copy of SPY Mouse, Dead Space, The Sims 3 or Real Racing 2 for the iPhone and iPod touch.

But wait, there's more. The kind hearted Firemint folks have also given two other chances to win, with a second Twitter entry button and a Facebook like contest - tweet disdain for the easy clues on Twitter and Like the SPY Mouse Facebook page for two more chances to win.

The contest continues through August 26th, a day after the purported release of SPY Mouse on iOS, so get while the getting is good!

EA Pulls Back Curtain on Fall Lineup

Posted by Blake Grundman on September 14th, 2010

When it comes to supporting iOS devices, it would be impossible to ignore EA's massive mobile development wing.  Not only have they successfully ported numerous versions of their successful console games to to iPad and iPhone, but with the addition of the Hasbro lineup, they have also recently released a new casual-focused series of titles.  With that in mind, they were proud to unveil their upcoming software releases across the iOS platform.


Following in the footsteps of board gaming big brother Scrabble, Yahtzee is an iPad exclusive that promises to bring the glory of the dice roll to the forefront.  Actually, this isn't Yahtzee's first ride in the iOS rodeo, as evidenced by the 2009 release of Yahtzee Adventures for iPhone.  This "adventuring" mode looks to be making an HD return, along with the classic mode that everyone has come to know and love.

The innovation doesn't end there, however, as there are also several other modes that look to bring a unique twist to the tried and true Yahtzee formula.  In "Rainbow Mode," color categories are added to the mix, while "Duplicate Mode" brings a more strategic approach to gameplay and scoring.  If you are looking for something more multiplayer centric, the "Battle Mode" should be just what the doctor ordered, combining the already addicting action with a quick thinking element to the frenzy to another level.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I were to leave out the best idea ever: "Duplicate Rainbow Mode."  This takes all of the fun of the single player component and makes it playable for several bodies.  It is hard to say if this is targeting fans of the recent internet meme, but isn't everything better with double rainbows?

Lite Brite

Okay, I am going to go out on a limb and say that no one, and I mean NO ONE asked for this.  That's not to say that the idea of making a Lite Brite application for the iPhone isn't at least neat, but I mean, seriously?  On the brite side (yeah, I know it was painfully punny) there are bound to be numerous people who will have memories that were derived from making their own glorified dot-matrix illustrations.

Though I kid about the motivations behind an app of this nature, it would be perfect for both young children and in a classroom enviroment.  Plus, if you are a parent, who wouldn't want to share an digital version of a toy that brought them countless hours of enjoyment?  Probably the best part of the entire application is the ability to share your created images with the entire world via email or Facebook.  Who would have ever thought that Facebook would become the equivalent of the refrigerator "wall of fame" for the digital age?

As is the case with every EA Sports title,

this could simply be seen as a case of "another year, another dollar."  Lately, however, the house that Madden built has been trying to provide players with more incentive to make the jump to next years' game.  Along with the obligatory roster updates, reflecting the ever shifting ecosystem of international soccer leagues, more that five hundred teams will be included in the iPhone version.  That is a staggeringly huge number, especially given the limited footprint that they try to maintain.  Along with the roster updates come a new cast of stadiums to play in, fifty to be exact.

If there is one thing that you can say with complete assurance, it is that EA listens to their community.  In response to complaints about last year's control scheme, you now have complete control over your players with both casual and advanced levels of interaction.  Catering to the hardcore soccer fans you will now the ability to pull off tricks like the pros, using intuitive gesture based controls.  Lets just hope you are ready to guide your team through an entire season of madness.

FIFA 11 will be bringing the pitch to App Store in October of this year.


Mixed Martial Arts have become what the World Wrestling Federation was to the American culture in the 1980s and 90s.  Tapping into the carnal desires of males everywhere, stadiums are packed across the globe, all in the name of witnessing gladiatorial style beatdowns.  It was only a matter of time before someone decided to bring the battles to consoles, as THQ successfully did in 2009 with UFC: Undesputed.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to make a quick buck, EA tossed their hat into the octagon in June of 2009, announcing MMA and slating it for a 2010 release date.  At the time it was unknown that the game would be coming to iOS, but you won't hear me complaining.

Featuring twenty Mixed Martial Arts legends including the likes of Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock, MMA combines visceral action and touch controls to bring you ever closer to the mayhem and intense action.  You will be able to chose from the impressive roster of real-life combatants or design your own character, then play through a career of bare-knuckle brawling.  In between matches you will even have the chance to take part in mini-games to level and improve your character, as you compete to be the best fighter in the world.

MMA will assuredly bring the pain when it hits the App Store in October.

The Sims 3: Ambitions

Based off of the immensely popular PC game franchise, The Sims 3 hit the iPhone last year to solid reviews.  While it is not known how well the game sold, it is safe to assume that it did well enough, considering that it was followed up earlier this year by the release of The Sims 3: World Adventures.  Following the logic of, "third time is the charm," EA has The Sims 3: Ambitions slated for release sometime very soon.

Whether you import a character that you designed in the earlier iPhone games or decide to create your new character from scratch, there are many new and interesting tweaks on the traditional Sims gameplay that will surely keep you busy micromanaging for quite some time.  After deciding from career paths such as teachers, chefs or rock stars, you will have the chance to live out your fantasy lives like never before.  Just be sure to give yourself ample time to enjoy yourself torturing those poor Sims.  Afterall, that is the whole point of the game... right?


First Look: The Sims 3: World Adventures

Posted by Jeff Scott on April 1st, 2010

The Sims 3: World Adventures for the iPhone is a different experience from The Sims 3 that is currently on the App Store. The game adds many new features and places to explore, without complicating the experience too much.

Some of the new features include that ability to travel to Egypt, Paris, and China. In addition, the size of each city map has been increased dramatically from the previous version. In addition, there are more customization options for your Sim including more face types.

The game includes four new mini game types scattered throughout the game. And some interesting easter eggs like the mummy in Cairo. Overall, the game seems to have a little more character than The Sims 3.

If you have already been playing The Sims 3 on the iPhone, you have the ability to transfer your Sim to the new version. The game walks you through the process when you start it -- you basically just save an image of your Sim from the previous version and import that into this version. You characteristics and any extra items that you have bought will come over with it. You do start over with money in the new game though.l

Overall, the Sims 3 is a good starting point for people new to the Sims universe or people who just want to get a fix in while on the go. The Sims 3: World Adventures should launch in the App Store soon.

Hit the jump for more screen shots of The Sims 3: World Adventures.

Sims 3 Theme Packs

Posted by Chris Hall on July 21st, 2009

I admit, I was a bit worried when Apple first hinted that developers would be able to add in-app purchases to their apps. I had this fear at the time that developers would take advantage of it the process, and games, especially online games, would require mafia game style add-ons to compete at higher levels. Well fortunately this hasn't occurred yet, but as one could guess, EA is starting the in-app download trend with some additional theme packs for its ever so popular game, The Sims 3.

If I've learned anything from my years on Earth, it's that have to pay my taxes, and that there will be expansion packs for Sims games. Oddly enough, this doesn't bother me in the least. I admittedly don't play the Sims too often, but who's to say that some of the great games out there won't follow suit. Would I be upset if Fieldrunners charged a buck or two for an expansion pack? No, probably not. The great thing that I've learned from the app store is that it's a great example of capitalism at its finest (well, it may be a bit regulated for true capitalism). When people make good products, their apps sell... just look at Harbor Master. I'm assuming that the same will hold true for expansions and in-app add-ons.

Back to the Sims... I went on a bit of a tangent there. In the next update to The Sims 3, 6 theme packs will be available for download at prices that are yet to be determined. 5 are already set in stone by EA (Nightlife, Sci-Fi, Gothic, Medieval, University), and on the EA website, they are having a poll to choose what the 6th pack will be. Sounds cool to me.

There is yet to be a release date for this update, or the exact price of the add-ons, but I'm hoping that the date will be tomorrow and the price will be a penny. Maybe I'm a bit optimistic, but here's hoping.

The Sims 3

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Kevin Stout on June 4th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: "SIM"PLY AWESOME
Is this one of the full-featured games that us gamers are looking for? Maybe not quite. But it's still one of the best games I've played on the iPhone so far. Get away from life and control someone elses.
Read The Full Review »